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S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford broke state law on travel, investigation finds

WASHINGTON — South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford broke state law when he charged taxpayers for more expensive business and first-class flights, according to the chairman of the legislative committee investigating Sanford's international travel.

State Sen. David Thomas, whose budget committee investigated Sanford's flights, sent evidence to Senate leaders Monday arguing the Republican governor violated state laws requiring the cheapest travel possible.

Thomas said Sanford's more expensive flights on two state Commerce Department trips cost taxpayers $13,700 more than the economy class flights available.

Legislators can consider sanctions against Sanford ranging from demanding reimbursement to impeachment, said Thomas, a Republican.

"It could be perceived, if it's significant enough and a case can be made of it, to constitute a case for possible impeachment," Thomas said Monday.

Sanford spokesman Benjamin Fox said Thomas' conclusions that the governor broke the law "blatantly overreach and accordingly are, in our view, not correct."

"Before making his claims, it would have seemed fair for Sen. Thomas to actually approach our office, as well as the Department of Commerce, to discuss his evidence and his interpretation of state laws and regulations," Fox said in a statement.

Sanford, 49, has been under increased scrutiny since admitting in June to having a mistress in Argentina. He has vowed to stay in office and says he is trying to reconcile with his wife, who has moved out of the governor's official residence to live at the family's beach house with their sons.

S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford broke state law on travel, investigation finds 08/10/09 [Last modified: Monday, August 10, 2009 9:13pm]
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